Teaching for the First Time – One Term In!
One term in seems a good time to review my experiences so far as a first-time teacher, and to invite any comments or suggestions.
What are my thoughts on teaching? So far, I love it. My classes are good at engaging with the texts they are studying (sometimes with a little initial coercion required). Group work has been especially rewarding, and I love the pyramid technique that Kate and James introduced me to in a previous blogpost. I already hate marking with a passion, despite only having marked two assignments, but anecdotal evidence suggests this seems to be the feeling of teachers generally! However, on the positive side, the quality of the assessments so far has been a relief, and I discovered on the last assignment that marking on Moodle is easy and faster; I will be doing all future marking on there.
Now for the things that you can help me with (please!) by replying to this post, or tweeting to #unikentedu:
- I find it difficult to know how much I suggest my students write down. On the one hand, I don’t want them to be distracted from seminar discussion, or to give the more shy class-members an excuse to avoid eye contact. On the other hand, there are some things that I thought I emphasised strongly during our sessions – on marking the assessments, it turns out I clearly didn’t do it strongly enough to remain in their minds by the time they got around to writing! This doesn’t so much even apply to literary or historical points that come up in seminars – these they seem to retain successfully – but to things that are important for their assessments like “Bullet point #3 says to include a sentence summary of the article you are critiquing. If you hide this in a paragraph and don’t introduce it with a keyword like “To summarise this article…” then I won’t be able to find it, so please make it very clear what your sentence is, whether through formatting or word choice!”. An additional point: I’m also aware of several Inclusive Learning Plans (ILPs) for students that indicate that they would struggle with too much note-taking.
- I’d like to introduce some sort of “recap”, this-is-what-we-did-today, what-are-the-most-important-bits type thing at the end of seminars. However, seminars are only one hour long, and I don’t want it taking over, or there will be very little to recap! Any suggestions for how to do this efficiently would be great.
- The next assessment for the module is an “Exercise in Good Writing”; the assessment states ‘You may want to do some research in preparing your answer and all quotations should be footnoted as usual but the two key skills under assessment here are your ability to write well and argue coherently.’ This seems to be one of those skills you are just expected to pick up as you go along, so although I have some thoughts on how I’ll actively try to teach it, any tips for teaching undergraduates how to argue coherently would be particularly interesting to hear!
Thanks in advance.
This week I have a workshop titled “Teacher Training: using technology in teaching”, so I shall try to summarise what that teaches me in a new post soon!